Part 2: Abashiri
SO, we jumped off the boat and were going to wait for the local bus to come by. The boats just opened for business the day before and the buses just started running, so it was late. So, we hoped in a taxi, and to take us downtown to something called the Plaza on the map. Taxis were VERY expensive and this I believe was the last one we took.
The Plaza was a department store. We ran inside out of the cold and bought some better gloves for the wife and son. I saw this poster on the wall near the bathrooms. It’s a top news stories in japan from 2007. The big picture is China Air crashing and burning.
Gloved and bundled up, we headed out to visit to local art museum down the street. It was closed and we wandered around the town for a bit. It’s a small town with little traffic and we just made fun as we went.
My wife read some characters that signified food and or noodles, so in we went to a tiny restaurant. There was a gas stove in the corner. Good thing, as it was 5 degrees inside. We ate great Ramen noodles with pork on top.
It was mid afternoon, so we went back toward the train station with the intent of going to the local museums up the road, the Abashiri Prison and the Drift Ice Museum. We stopped in an internet cafe to say hi. They spoke English and I had printed maps from their website before we left Taiwan.
They gave us some brochures and we headed up to catch the bus. We waited and waited but the right bus still wasn’t showing up. It was about -8C or so and the boy was freezing and moody. I made a command move to go across the street to the diner we ate in on the first night. We sat down and removed his boots. I warmed his toes up and drank some coffee. Finally we headed back out and got on the bus and went to the prison.
The place was deserted on such a cold day and we had it basically all to ourselves. The sun was dropping and we walked around. I kept thinking this would be the worst prison this side of the Russian Gulag. It was SOOO cold and these guys were working, so the displays suggested, in rags. It would have been near impossible to keep warm in this place. No wonder if was the most feared prison in Japan.
The next day we took the JR up to Shari, the Northeastern most station. Shiretoko National Park is up there. It’s a World Heritage Site and as we knew we’d never be there again, we went. We had some time to kill and did so by eating Wasabi Doritos
Our inexperience showed here as we had a choice of busing it up to a Nature Center, or going to a frozen waterfall. The price difference was big when buying for three, so I chose the cheaper and closer. The waterfall. The drive up to the park was spectacular. Ski resorts next to the drift ice filled ocean, breaking on the rocks. The bus stopped and we got out. The bus left. The waterfall was visible from the road. In fact, it was right next to the road. 20 meters from the road. We had 2 hours to catch the last bus back. Crap.
Making lemonade from lemons, we hiked up the steps and I taught the boy finer nature skills.
We came back down, hiked through a tunnel and found some wild wave breakers, those huge concrete jacks-like things they protect the coastline. They were frozen and dripping with ice and looked like huge frozen walruses. Sadly the picture won’t load here. grrr We saw a deer up on the hill. Then we saw a bus coming back our way. We spirited back to the bus stop and jumped on the same bus that dropped us off. The bus was about 22 degrees C.
Back to Shari for ramen again. Train back to Abashiri.
Clear skies for the incredible frozen full Moon:
Waiting for Mr Ikeda to pick us up at the train station, watching the Sumo competition:The pic is off one of the two foreign guys in the games. We were rooting for An Ma. He threw some serious weight around:
Sunrise on the last day in Abashiri was perfect:
Next stop, Asahikawa.